Will talk to everyone, including separatists: Dineshwar Sharma, Centre’s new Kashmir interlocutor


NEW DELHI: The Centre’s new Special Representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma has said he is willing to talk to all stakeholders in an attempt to find a political solution to the Kashmir issue, including separatists. In an exclusive interview to Wion, Sharma said the Narendra Modi government has not placed any limitations on him as far as dialogue with Kashmiris is concerned.

“I have been given complete freedom by the government… PM is very much emotionally attached to Kashmir and wants to see a doable solution to the Kashmir problem. He has already announced it on 15th August that problem of Kashmir should be solved by embracing the people of Kashmir,” Sharma told Wion.

He made it crystal clear that he would also engage with separatist leaders despite the recent investigations into their links to terror funding from Pakistan. “Some of them might be doing something wrong. What do I have to do with it? I don’t have to look into that aspect. It is a separate investigation,” Sharma said.

“Let me go and see. I will try to ensure peace and look for doable solutions so that it does not keep happening again and again,” he added.

Sharma reserved any comment on how he would approach the question and framework of dialogue with Kashmiri stakeholders, saying he would first visit Kashmir and get a sense of the situation.

He however was categorical when it came to the nature of the escalation of militancy in Kashmir. “Pakistan has contributed to the problem of Kashmir right from the beginning. Right from 1987, it provided logistics, supplied arms and funds and fuelled insurgency in all manners. This problem continues till today,” Sharma said.

But, he said, the core focus of the insurgency had shifted away from the priorities of the insurgency of the 1980s and 1990s.

“In the ’90s, radicalisation was not there. It was different. The sentiment was about ‘azadi’ (freedom). It was only fight for ‘azadi’. Things have changed today. Radicalisation gained face after ISIS gained footprint in Iraq and Syria. From that point of time, radicalisation picked which was further fanned from across the border through internet and contributed to this process,” he said.